Saturday, November 21, 2009

Food Glorious Food (and a few other things)

We went on a trip around ‘Old Dilli’ today and saw one or two interesting places in between eating and eating. We started as a group in taxis from our residence and sped through crazy Delhi traffic and honking horns until we got to the area known as ‘Old Dilli’.

On arrival we were immediately surrounded by cycle rickshaw drivers, which was a good thing as we needed 10 between us, and we paired up for a day of adventure.
The old Delhi streets are very narrow and packed with people so after a while we realised that the best and safest way to get around was to let someone else take responsibility. Anyone walking would really have to watch their feet.

I saw my first wild monkey today on the roof tops as we walked to see the local spice market. Very cramped and very smelly(spicey smelly) we pushed our way through the crowds as our guide, Liam, current VSO volunteer, guided us in the direction of the steps that would take us to the top of the spice market and we were able to see a great view of all the hustle and bustle. The spice market, though vast, was not what I had expected having seen spice for sale in Morocco. Each seller seemed to specialise in a particular family of spices so there was no array of colours in any one place.

We then went to see a Jain temple with it’s beautiful colours and glass windows, followed by speeding our way through the streets again in our rickshaws. Shopping in this area would be interesting if I had been there to shop. The streets are laid out according to what is being sold ie on one street it’s all saris, the next all glasses, the next all shoes etc. Not like shopping at home the locals have to walk miles to get what they may need.

We then had our first stop for food – the famous Pawartha Wala - in the same place since 1875. Basically a pawartha is a form of flat bread, with just about any filling you could want and served with a selection of dipping sauces. The most common choices seem to have been mixed veg, cashew nuts and banana. All equally delicious. We followed this up by making an attempt to get into see the huge mosque in the district, but unfortunately it was prayer time and we were not allowed in. So to pass the time we went for more food.

This time we went to one of the most famous restaurants in Delhi - Karim’s. As it turned out the stop for pawartha was just starters and we all tucked in various main courses in Karim’s. The food was delicious. Some of Karim’s recipes go back generations to the founding chef who worked for the last Mogul emperor. There are a few recipes that are never written down and are passed from generation to generation.

We then all piled back into our rickshaws and our driver turned into Michael Schumacher. Flying through the traffic he must have thought he was an F1 driver so Gina (my rickshaw companion) and I held on for dear life. But we made it to every stop safely, despite a few hairy moments.

Our last stop was outside the amazing Red Fort. Unfortunately we didn’t go in, but I hope to be able to get back to it before leaving Delhi.

Tomorrow we’re off shopping for our sawaar kameez – so watch this space.

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